How do your promote your academic library’s special collection?

I’ve just been having a conversation with our Special Collections Librarian here at Massey about ways we can promote our special collections. If we think about our main target market (which realistically is history academics and postgrads) then its quite small, but the value and impact they can derive from t the collection is quite high. How then do we get the message out?  Some ways we thought of were:

  • inviting academics and postgrads in to see the collections
  • promoting new acquisitions
  • using imagery from beautiful or quirky items in social media
  • making sure our staff know about the collections and how to access them, so they can promote them in face to face interactions

I’d be interested to know in what other libraries have done, and what has worked and what doesn’t!

special collection text

Creating short videos with Animoto

I got to attend a great social media masterclass run by DK at the LIANZA conference last week. One of the things DK showcased was Animoto – which allows you to create short videos using your photos set to music. Great for promotional material on your blog! Here is an example put together by my colleague Judi Kercher:

LIANZA Conference 2012.

I would really like to be able to embed the actual video, but for the life of me I can’t find the embed button – maybe it’s a Chrome thing? I might have to experiment with another browser. Meanwhile here is a pic of DK delivering his keynote at the same conference:

Using hairdressers for word of mouth marketing

Last year Liz Knowles and I featured this excellent clip about using taxi drivers for word of mouth marketing in our LIANZA marketing workshops:

At the end of this cool little video they make a reference to hairdressers being their next target as agents for word of mouth marketing. I’m not sure if they ever did this – have yet to find the YouTube clip.

Just recently I came across this article about the launch of the Right Royal Cabaret Festival in New Plymouth in June. And who was in the audience? Hairdressers! As TAFT chief executive, Suzanne Porter explains:

We targeted young hairdressers because they have a great ability to talk and they see so many different people every day that they can talk to about this event

I would think there would be lots of scope to invite certain professional groups, like hairdressers, along to events or launches in libraries. Has anyone out there tried this? Did it work for you?

Kiwiana theme a winner [or catering for a library do on the cheap]

Recently we held a promotional event at Massey University Library for our academics, showcasing some of our newer services such as eTV and our Discover interface. Partly inspired by a Christmas do I went to last year, we decided upon a kiwiana theme for the food. We didn’t have a lot of money to spend so the cheap and cheerful fare of cheerios* and tomato sauce, sausage rolls, lamingtons, chips and dip etc made for a low cost catering option. And one we could easily put together ourselves. Sure we wouldn’t win any Heart Foundation ticks for it, but it was popular and fun. One I would recommend for those of us in New Zealand looking to entertain our library customers on a budget!

Kiwiana treats – Foxton Fizz, L&P and lamingtons

And we also served up a rather nice (alcohol free) punch.

*these are cocktail type sausages in NZ speak, not the cereal 🙂

I’m not saying it has to be cheese and wine … but â€¦

Welcome to my first guest post – this one showcases promotional events in an academic library. 

A big thank you to my colleague Heather da Vanzo, Humanities & Social Sciences Librarian, Massey University Library, Wellington campus

Libraries do need to up their game when it comes to marketing. Having worked in a variety of sectors, most recently in the Academic sector it’s clear that Libraries have moved from collection based institutions towards service based organizations – I’m just not sure we’re communicating the value of our collection to our clients.

Currently being in a small team our marketing has to be sustainable, we’ve agreed that 2 promotional events a year is feasible. We aren’t talking huge events – just 20-30 guests – again manageable and for us it allows us to offer a “hands-on” aspect to the session.

Tailoring the sessions to client needs is crucial – it keeps numbers manageable, but also ensures a clear message. So far our target audience has been postgraduates, researchers and staff but his could change, depending on the resources we market and the venue.

Heather da Vanzo presents at a Massey University Library event at our Wellington campus

As always it’s important we don’t reinvent the wheel so we’ve designed a check list of logistical tasks. The checklist ensures we can divide the tasks amongst the team and utilize a package of templates including a door sign, poster, bookmark and invitation email. Apart from saving time, these templates retain some consistency to the Libraries “promotion” brand.  We can easily change the colour and logo to match the theme of the promotional event.

Really it’s been about getting staff and researchers into the Library space and showing them the Library has what they need. Assuming we are familiar with the purpose of the institution and the needs of the clients, Librarians are in the best position to make the match between client and resource.  Essentially show clients our relevance.

We have offered, cake and coffee, cheese and wine, catering which doesn’t break the bank; but creates a welcoming impression with the client and gets them through the door. And it strikes a chord:

“Great session…..very informative and clearly presented…makes much more impact when you get a presentation rather than finding the info out by working through the data……and let’s face it….mostly we wouldn’t bother…….great cake too!” Associate Professor Ciochetto

We’ve found promotional events a great way to build relationships, promote our resources and look competent!

Note: Photo and quote used with permission

Promoting EPIC resources – ideas from the vendors at LIANZA11

One of the sessions I attended at the recent LIANZA conference was about the promotion of EPIC databases, with the session being presented by the vendors themselves.  You can find all their presentations from the session on the EPIC website .  Below are some of the ideas I took particular note of.

Most vendors provide:

–          posters that either you or they can customise for you

–          Search widgets for your website

–          Training for library staff in their resources

Liza Fisher from Gale Cengage talked about “shelf talkers” to make the link between hardcopy and print – they can provide these for libraries. This is what they look like:

Example of a Shelf Talker: Photo courtesy Gale Cengage

Liza also made a point that I whole heartedly agree with – you absolutely have to identify key content for your customers. In some library contexts promoting big databases can be overwhelming for staff and irrelevant for customers. Liza suggests taking opportunities to highlight journals that might appeal to your customers – for instance if you someone asks where the golfing books are this could be an opportunity to promote access to golfing magazines on the EPIC databases. This “would you like fries with that” approach is not so alien to us – it is an extension of our customer service values. As Camille from Britannica said at the same session, we librarians are in sales. Every great sales person worth their salt knows their product – and we have to know our products and resources too. Liza mentioned what they did at Auckland City Libraries a few years ago now where they ran a display competition between branches, with each branch promoting a different resource. In this way staff at each branch become familiar with at least one of the resources on offer.

In one of my earlier posts I included some ideas for promoting EPIC databases from the nz-libs list. Be sure to check that out – there are some great ideas there from libraries around New Zealand and staff training was a key tool. I also included a link to Julie Badger’s excellent article about the challenges of promoting library databases. If you only have time to read one article on libraries and marketing, make it hers 🙂

Measuring the impact of marketing activities in academic libraries

The question of measuring the impact of marketing efforts is a fraught one, even in the business world. Check out what Farris et al. have to say on the subject from Marketing Metrics: The Definitive Guide to Measuring Marketing Performance (2nd ed, Pearson Prentice Hall, 2010):

In business and economics, many metrics are complex and difficult to master. Some are highly specialized and best suited to specific analyses. Many require data that may be approximate, incomplete, or unavailable.

Little wonder then that many libraries don’t tackle it – in the US, one study found that less than 33% of academic libraries evaluated their promotional campaigns.

Farris et al. offer this:

Under these circumstances, no single metric is likely to be perfect. For this reason, we recommend that marketers use a portfolio or “dashboard” of metrics. By doing so, they can view market dynamics from various perspectives and arrive at “triangulated” strategies and solutions. Additionally, with multiple metrics, marketers can use each as a check on the others. In this way, they can maximize the accuracy of their knowledge … Being able to “crunch the numbers” is vital to success in marketing. Knowing which numbers to crunch, however, is a skill that develops over time. Toward that end, managers must practice the use of metrics and learn from their mistakes.

Brian Mathews in Marketing today’s academic library: a bold approach to communicating with students (American Library Association, 2009) offers up some of the potential components of that dashboard:

Response-based advertising
For instance getting a customer to visit a website, or take advantage of an offer. The website could be a campaign-specific secondary page to better track statistics.

Market share
This could be calculated by counting the total number of users and dividing them by the total student population. For instance if 4000 students checked out a book at least once during the year out of a total student population of 10,000 then the market share would be 40%. And then we might think about the other 60% who didn’t borrow anything and how to reach them.

How did you hear about us?
This involves inviting students to share their experience. This can be done face to face or by using a follow-up email.

Web analytics
Analyse total hit rates and click-through rates to your website via tools such as Google Analytics.

LibQual+
A customer service survey administered by the Association for Research Libraries (charges apply).

Recall
A technique that can be used in focus groups, surveys or one-to-one interviews.

Dorm (hostel) surveys

Longitudinal studies
This involves tracking student usage over time – how do they find out about our services and how do they use the library over time? Mathews’ example involves selecting 6 new students each year, who he meets with once a semester throughout their degree. He notes this isn’t scientific but it allows him to get a feel for selected user groups and to learn about their experiences.

As Mathew’s says, ultimately there is no silver bullet when it comes to measuring impact and as Farris et al. suggest we need a range of metrics. Critically we also need to remember that this is part of a bigger task – we need to figure out what success would look like – which is all part of the goals we set as to what we want our marketing activities to achieve – right back at the start of the cycle of our marketing activities. For Mathews:

… success, from a marketing standpoint, is a combination of familiarity along with usage, across the span of a student’s tenure. The longevity of library use from day one until graduation is what matters

and

I feel instead of simply focusing on generating awareness or even just increasing use of resources, we should approach communication more philosophically by viewing our marketing as a chance to elevate the role of the library in our students’ minds. In this manner, our advertising encourages them to expect more from us. We are not just providing more books, more journals, more computers, or more staff to help them, but rather more relevance. We should aspire to smash their preconceptions of what a library is and instead demonstrate what it can become.

He proposes the following:

1. List all of the library products and services that are relevant to undergraduates
2. At the end of the academic year ask a random sample of thirty students from different classes and ask them to
a) tick the products and services they have heard of and
b) tick those that they have actually used.

This allows you to track the effectiveness of your communications and the usage of your library.

What tools do you use to measure the impact of your marketing activities?

So it’s like YOUR Google?

At Massey University Library we have recently launched our Discover database –  which offers an integrated Google-style search of many of the Library’s article databases, ebooks, the catalogue, Massey Research Online and other resources, instead of searching each resource individually. Anyone can search Discover from our Library home page. Our publicity for Discover stepped up a notch this week at our Turitea campus with a simple but eye-catching display going up. We are starting to get more of branded look for our posters now using a specific template. We got the posters printed by our printery on campus so we could get some larger sizes, and had them finish them in a nice matt finish.  
 
 
The posters include quotes from initial student feedback:
 
 
 
Today we had a quick working party in the office to staple sweets to bookmarks and we then took them out to the Information Commons to hand out to students (felt a bit like channelling my inner flight attendant*). So that quick promotional effort reached over 100 students and it was a winner – we got several students asking us about Discover – one said “so it’s like your Google?” Right on the money. I think that actively distributing promotional materials with the added attraction of some candy is a technique that is well worth us trying again in the future.

 

 *In New Zealand flight attendants walk up and down the aisles distributing sweets before getting organised for landing.